Climate change has forced the aviation industry to rethink its value chain to try to minimize the carbon emissions linked to all off its processes. The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted international travel the way we once knew it, and many aspects of the experience one has in the cabin could soon be forever redefined.
What will businesses class will look like in the near future? What kind of innovations can business travelers expect? “A business class seat can be designed from scratch and brought to market in around 24-36 months,” said Anthony Harcup, senior director at Teague, in an interview with CNN. Teague is an industrial design firm that works closely with airlines and airplane manufacturers.
As smartphones became the center of people’s everyday lives and aircraft connectivity became increasingly more reliable, Panasonic Avionics challenged Teague, Formation Design Group, and Collins Aerospace to design and deliver a new, integrated seating product that could bring on-the-ground consumer expectations into the onboard passenger experience.
The team began with an extensive research activity involving passengers and potential airline customers to solicit inputs and further understand user behavior. Studies previously conducted on Collins Aerospace’s Jazz Seat, also designed by Teague, helped inform the comfort and shape of the seat cushion while prototyping both physical and digital design at scale allowed the team to experience the product first-hand and quickly iterate toward a solution in which comfort and convenience work together.
In the last five years, travel preferences, technological developments and geopolitical shifts have forced a major drop in demand for wide bodies in favor of more versatile, fuel-efficient long-range narrow-body aircraftAnthony Harcup, Senior Director at Teague
From their personal device, passengers can control the in-flight entertainment system, as well as order food and beverages directly to their seat. Keeping frequent flyers top of mind, the app keeps track of any food, drink, or viewing preferences from previous flights. Passengers can also adjust the seat recline, temperature settings, and change the seat lighting to their personal taste.
As passengers approach their destination, the app provides gate, baggage claim, and car rental information along with a reminder to remove personal items; the main storage compartment includes a sensor that triggers an on-screen alert if anything is left behind.
Achieved through close collaboration with our design and manufacturing partners, the physical and digital experience work in perfect harmony to offer a new level of personalization.
Airlines like JetBlue have revolutionized the way comfort is experienced in the sky. The airline has revamped its Mint experience for transatlantic flights aboard the airline’s A321 aircraft has 24 private suites, each with its own sliding door, and lie-flat seats with JetBlue’s exclusive Tuft & Needle sleep experience including the T&N Adaptive® Foam cushions, a memory foam pillow and a customizable blanket.
JPA Design is another design company focusing on the improvement of seats. The company has come up with some of the most popular seats on the market. Project AIRTEK is a JPA Design collaboration with Williams Advanced Engineering and SWS Aircraft Certification to create the future of lightweight and sustainable cabin structures.
The partnership, which is funded by the UK Governments’ Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), brings together world class experts in design, engineering, manufacturing, material sciences and aviation certification. “It’s also now not enough to talk about the standard product attributes of comfort, privacy and luxury; sustainability has to figure in the story so there will be a push by airlines and suppliers to improve the environmental credentials of their business class seats,” said Richard D’Cruze, business development director of JPA, in an interview with CNN.
The core focus of AIRTEK is a patented unibody, composite, monocoque structure where loads are supported by the skin and shell of the seat, negating the need for much of the internal support structure. Less structure means less weight and results in the lightest business class seat ever designed. Lower weight reduces fuel burn and associated carbon emissions whilst the simplified structure with fewer parts improves production efficiency and reduces maintenance for airline operators.
A few examples would be via more ethically sourced trim and finish materials or light weighting to reduce fuel burn and the resulting carbon emissionsRichard D’Cruze, Business Development Director of JPA
With the removal of unnecessary structure comes additional customer benefits. An increase in living space improves comfort and provides additional personal storage, particularly below the seat which can now accommodate a full-size cabin bag.
The seat design makes use of recycled materials to reduce its carbon footprint whilst also incorporating high levels of customization so each seat and cabin can be tailored to an airline’s individual brand requirements. The technology uses a flexible set of principles that can be adapted to various applications as well as to both wide body and narrow-body airframe types.